Some years ago, when my main creative outlet was poetry, I always had a small notebook close by to jot down poetic fragments that came to me.
Then, during more scheduled and longer sessions, I’d flick back through the excerpts and see if the rest of the poems were ready to emerge from me to join these scattered beginnings.
It worked very well, and however well you think you might memorise a line in your head to jot down at a more convenient time later, you rarely do, and it becomes lost forever.
Still now, I use the Notes app on my phone and iPad to record titles and ideas for new blog posts.
This means I’m never sat staring at a blank screen wondering what on earth to write – there’s always a starting point to launch from.
In photography, I’m finding a very similar behaviour emerging.
Or maybe it’s always been there, I’m just more aware now.
Since acquiring the amazing little Ricoh digital compacts in recent months, there’s no excuse not to have one with you virtually everywhere you go.
A DSLR might take more accomplished and high resolution images, and might be far more adjustable, but they’re far from pocketable.
The Ricohs (and similar cameras like the so tiny it disappears in your palm Sony Cybershot I wrote about the other day) are ready in a second, whenever you might need to capture a scene or moment as you go about your day.
I’ve found myself capturing more shots around the house than I’ve ever done before.
And more simple shots just of things I pass when walking the kids to school or on lunchtime walks at work.
With the poetry I mentioned how fragments of lines – sometimes just two or three words – could then be built upon later.
With photography it doesn’t work quite the same – you can’t add further elements to a photograph once it’s been taken, even if you can tweak the fine details of how it looks a little.
Instead I see these “camera sketches” as individual images that will in time be part of a larger collected theme of work.
A project based on, say, trees, you probably wouldn’t go out and shoot in one or two sessions. Far more likely it would be a collection of images taken here and there over a period of three months, six months, or six years.
And this is where using a camera as a notebook in this way this becomes valuable on two levels.
First, you have a new photograph you probably wouldn’t have taken with your full on highfalutin “proper” bells and whistles camera.
Second, each one is a page in a future project (possibly literally, they might become a page in a photo book you create one day).
Do you use any cameras in this way, as a tool for spontaneous sketches? Please share your experiences in the comments below.
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